by Dann Aungst
My name is Dann Aungst and I am a recovering sex addict. And yes, I do use the word “addict” rather than compulsion or even habit. I believe as an addict, a person is out of control. Someone or some outside force is required to get a person to realize that they have a problem. And even then, when that problem is realized, the addict is unable to stop the “acting out” behavior on their own. They need outside help, direction or assistance. This was the case for me and is for a high percentage of other men that are addicted to pornography or sex.
In my recovery, I saw that the true underneath motivation of my addiction was to escape reality, to escape the negative self image feelings, feelings of inadequacy, insignificance, insecurity, worthlessness and self-loathing. I These behaviors started many years before sex or pornography was even part of the solution. Around age 6 I would escape into a fantasy world with a female imaginary playmate. It wasn’t until puberty that this “escape” became sexual. But it was all for the same purpose – to escape. To chase something that would fill the emptiness I felt, the emptiness in my soul.
Magazines were the start at puberty. Quickly, it led to videos. Then when computers came around, internet was a huge draw. At the age of 25 I thought marriage would solve all my problems. Nothing was further from the truth. I quickly found that my addictive behavior had created a selfish, self serving individual incapable of receiving true intimacy. It was terrifying to have someone “truly” know me in that way. Pornography was much safer. It would never judge me, reject me, criticize me, yell at me, make me feel insignificant, stupid or worthless. Foolishly I expected my wife to fill the hole in my heart. The emptiness that I had for most of my life. An expectation that I since found to be unrealistic, as no human can fill the void that only God is meant to fill. But I didn’t know that, at least not 25 years ago.
As a result, my need, my insatiable craving to be fulfilled grew stronger ultimately leading to massage parlors, affairs and prostitutes. Every time I acted out, only a brief satisfaction resulted. However the guilt and shame would quickly take away the short lived pleasure of escape only to make me feel even worse than I did before. But the hunt to try again, and again, and again hoping that eventually I would be satisfied and feel “whole” blinded me to the true reality of my behavior. Even my wife finding out about an affair and almost losing her wasn’t enough to stop my behavior. I had told myself countless times when looking at porn or acting out in some other way that “this was the last time”, only to fail, over and over and over again. I could not stop it!
Another characteristic of addiction is that it is progressive. This was definitely the case with me. In the years of my behavior, I advanced to massage parlors and even prostitution.
A well known expert in the sex addiction field defines the addiction as “Evading reality no matter the cost, though it may even result in death”. As a Christian and a Catholic, I knew that if I were to die after a sin like this before having the chance to properly confess it, I would end up in hell – but I would still follow through with the activity! Playing Russian Roulette with my soul and spiritual death. That’s the real definition or powerlessness! It wasn’t until I contracted STD and gave it to my wife that it finally hit me “maybe I have a problem”. I was undeniably a sex addict! It was then, and only then that I began to seek help to change my behavior. I remember early in my recovery that I heard a talk on a CD and the speaker gave a quote by G.K. Chesterton “Every man who stands at the doorstep of a brothel is looking for God”. This hit me like a ton of bricks. I sobbed for what seemed like hours. I knew it was true. All this time I was looking for the wrong thing to fill my emptiness. Seeking and accepting counterfeit love to fill what only God can fill with true love. Even though I now realized that I was looking for the wrong thing, it did not serve to quench my cravings. I understood why, but didn’t know what to do about it. Gods love is such an ambiguous notion. I can’t see it, I couldn’t seem to feel it in my real life. How do I really get it? All the emptiness was still there. The need to escape was still there. How do I make these other cravings go away?
Years of hard work, determination, self-discovery, much inner healing and the ultimate conversion of my heart and surrender to God is what ultimately led me to a manageable place in my life. The cravings, the instinct to escape are all still there. But it’s the decision of where to escape to and what I search for to fill the emptiness in my heart that makes the all difference. Ultimately, for me, its not the search for something to fill the my heart, it’s surrendering myself and letting God – who is already waiting to come in – to actually come in, to be invited.
In this recovery, God has laid it on my heart in a strong way to tell other men that battle with all levels of pornography and sexual addiction that they are not alone. The overwhelming feeling of “no one understands, no one would accept me if they knew the truth about me” is the absolute lie that is so powerful in keeping an addict in the dark and feeling helpless. I was there, I know. It doesn’t have to be that way!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
In answering Gods call, I have written a book about my addiction and my recovery. It’s merely a candid story of where I came from and how I found freedom. The book is “From One Addict to Another”. I published it with my real name as I felt it necessary to be honest and upfront with fellow addicts. It’s the hiding in this addiction that creates the power over us. My blunt honesty of my history and of myself is part of my own path to healing and freedom. I also have a website www.roadtopurity.com that offers countless resources for addicts, many of my prayers I use, a blog where you can respond to writings that I have posted or reach out for help, as well as links to buy the book. Also a few years after writing the book, I became a Certified Addiction Counselor and also have developed a men’s sexual integrity group. For more information on these groups as well as a multitude of recovery resources, visit www.roadtopurity.com. Feel free to reach out directly through the contacts in the Road to Purity site and as for prayers and guidance.